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Are you a spiritual director who works online?
Are you a directee? (posh direction-speak for ‘client’)
Do you use Zoom?
Zoom! It’s an inescapable part of life living with a pandemic, isn’t it? Ok- ‘coexist,’ rather; ‘living’ implies rather too cosy a relationship with this oh- so-friendly virus than I’d really like.
Every time someone mentions ‘Zoom,’ I can’t help but think of Fat Larry’s hit. Am I the only person who does this, or am I just showing my age? Do you think developers imagined that if they named it after the song, it, too, would make its lucky user’s hearts ‘ go boom?’ Who knows?
Personally, I’d prefer to go ‘flyin’ high in a neon sky’ with Fat Larry. I’m a Skype, Facetime and Whatsaap gal myself. Pre Covid 19, I was working with several of my directees via these video conferencing apps . Now it’s 75%. I’ve found it both challenging and energising.
What have I learned?
1. Online direction is legit: It may not be suited to everybody of course. (In the unlikely event my own director stumbles across this, I am so looking forward to meeting again in person). I’d go so far as likening it to received wisdom about the Sacrament of Reconciliation: ‘All may, some should, none must.’ But let’s face it, in places where directors are few and far between, travel isn’t possible or where a directee wants the reassurance of confidentiality from an objective listener outside of their own ‘patch,’ it can be a boon. And for many folk, their ‘patch’ is extensive indeed.
As a friend and colleague of mine once said: ‘You don’t want to be bumping into your director over the frozen peas in Waitrose.’ Or another: ‘It can be like bumping into your gynaecologist in Morrisons!’
Don’t be put off by negative vibes.
2. It helps you reassess your listening skills: With the occasional fractional sound lag or freeze, it’s soo easy to jump in and finish a sentence or cut across each other. (Shame!) Wait, wait and wait.
Remember that with whole body language not being as easy to ‘read’ as in an in person encounter, you are forced to focus more on verbal cues, the words used, the words behind the words. I guess this is easier the better you know your directee. Remember, you won’t have welcomed them in the door, brewed up a cuppa, grumbled together about the pesky delays on the Central Line, so may not have had the same opportunity to pick up those so valuable indicators of mood from their posture, greeting, chatter and general demeanour.
Whilst on the subject of non verbal cues, some people find the lack of eye contact disconcerting. I can’t say I’ve found that overmuch myself; I’m much too busy shrieking inwardly at the sight of myself in small screen masquerading as the Monster from the Swamp. (Facetime is so flattering!) But seriously, I’ve had times when once we get deeper into the conversation , I’ve felt that sense of flow, of divine connection, forgotten about the tech stuff or even that we’re not physically present to each other. Even if the other person is only 6 inches high on my phone screen.
To be continued…